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Brazilian court orders resumption of work at controversial dam in the Amazon

Wednesday, August 29th 2012 - 06:10 UTC
Full article 24 comments
Indigenous groups fear their displacement and an end to their ancestral and living grounds Indigenous groups fear their displacement and an end to their ancestral and living grounds

Brazil's Supreme Court has approved the resumption of work on the controversial 13 billion dollars Belo Monte dam in the Amazon, which was stopped earlier this month after protests from indigenous groups.

This week's preliminary ruling overturned an earlier ruling from a lower court that ordered construction of the dam, which crosses the Xingu River, to be stopped until local indigenous peoples could testify before Congress.

Supreme Court President Carlos Ayres Britto's decision could still be revised, however, when the case is further examined by the court.

The Belo Monte dam has claimed years of high-profile criticism, with the likes of Hollywood director James Cameron, actress Sigourney Weaver and the Inter-American Court on Human rights opposing its construction because they say it would displace indigenous people living in the Amazon rainforest.

President Dilma Rousseff has said mega dams like the Belo Monte are needed to meet Brazil's growing energy demands.

But the indigenous groups have said they fear the dam will harm their way of life, and environmentalists are concerned about deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and irreparable damage to the ecosystem.

Belo Monte is set to start producing electricity in 2015 and is expected to produce 11,000 megawatts of electricity. It would be the third-largest dam in the world, after China's Three Gorges facility and the shared Brazil/Paraguay Itaipu dam in the south.

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  • Yuleno

    Brasil says it needs electricity,by any means possible,than the guilt of occupation can deter.
    How can there be mountains of token regret for the past 'crimes' when they continue today.
    Can more money be spent on finding ways of getting electricity in a friendly way or is that not economic

    Aug 29th, 2012 - 11:47 am 0
  • GeoffWard2

    Can't really understand what you are trying to say, Yul.

    Whereas the dam is discrete, the other 'friendly ways' are dispersed ...
    eg. hundreds of wind farms along the coastline of Brasil,
    and solar arrays across the Sertao.
    The downside is visual/tourist blight and alternative land use; but it is a BIG country, and, like every other country in the world, Brasil will adopt a mixed energy strategy eventually .... including, sadly, (pre-salt) oil.

    I say hurry on the full commissioning of Belo Monte.
    The 'indians' in the feature picture of the article can then take off their feathers and revert to their normal dress; and if they all get free 4x4s, so what? It is a small price to pay for the development of Brasil (If Brasil were corruption-free I would not be saying this).

    The only absolutely important corollary is to ensure that the illegal logging STOPS.
    We have the drones, the satellites and people on the ground; what we need is the political (and military) will. The trouble is that - at present -many of the big loggers are the big land-grabbers ('owners')/land clearers and the powerful (politicians) themselves.

    Aug 29th, 2012 - 12:28 pm 0
  • Yuleno

    Geoff why do the 'new world' countries pretend that they don't want every bit of the earth they occupy for themselves,according to their insatiable greed but continue to remove people,who have lived in a place for generation.
    Are they going ahead with the project(which in capitalist terms is too costly to delay)while consulting with the indigenous people.Is that how the law is seen and was the small delay as much as could be financed.There is a lot of tokenism here,isn't there.

    Aug 29th, 2012 - 03:40 pm 0
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